It’s not easy to get into medical school, but making the right choices can help you reach your goal. It’s important to start out with a good foundation.
That means taking physics and calculus in high school, both to have credibility as a prospective science major in the admissions process and to be prepared for the science courses you’ll be taking in college. Medical schools require students to have college courses in biology, inorganic chemistry and organic chemistry, physics and calculus. These courses are tougher if you haven’t had any exposure to the subjects in high school. Since medical schools will be looking at your science GPA in addition to your overall college GPA, it’s important to do well in these classes.
The good news is that you can major in any subject. An art history major who has excellent grades in science classes will be in a stronger position applying to medical school than a biology major with lower grades.
The Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) is also a major factor in admissions decisions. I know it’s not fun to realize that the SAT isn’t the end of standardized tests.
Beyond grades and test scores, medical schools are looking at a student’s seriousness of purpose.
Volunteering or working at a hospital or other healthcare setting will help you be sure that you really do want to become a doctor and demonstrate your commitment to medicine.
Research experience is also helpful.
Being able to deal with people from different cultures is a plus, so students who know a second language and have studied abroad may have an advantage.
Many aspiring physicians think they need to go to the most prestigious undergraduate school in order to have a chance at a good medical school. This isn’t the only path, and sometimes it’s not the best path.
But for the student who doesn’t immediately grasp complex physics problems or is shy about asking for help, attending college with many driven and accomplished pre-med students could be the end of the dream of medical school.
Students will be prepared to apply to medical school if they attend a college where they can earn strong grades, engage in research and develop relationships with professors who are invested in their success and will write strong recommendations. Being at the top of the class at a less competitive college can put a student in a stronger position for medical school applications than being an average student at a more competitive school.
There are many colleges that may not be prestigious but have a good track record of sending graduates on to medical school.
And by targeting schools that are either lower in cost or where a student is likely to get merit aid, a family should not have to pay much more than they would for a University of California or other public university education.
Since most students take out loans to attend medical school, it’s nice to start without the burden of debt from your undergraduate education.